What legal rights does a person have if they are not on a title to a house, but have paid the mortgage for over 20 years and they live in Illinois?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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What legal rights does a person have if they are not on a title to a house, but have paid the mortgage for over 20 years and they live in Illinois?

House was purchased for a relative to
live in over 20 years ago and they
agreed to pay the mortgage. Another
relative paid the remainder of the
mortgage and is trying to get the title
in their name. Can this be done. The
title is in my husband’s name and his
Ex-wife. They bought a house so the
Aunt could live in it.

Asked on September 14, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Being on a mortgage or paying the mortgage for someone does NOT give you title to the house. People can and do pay for others (e.g. family members) without becoming owners: it would take a written agreement that in exchange for paying, the payor will get title in order for him or her to get it (agreements affecting ownership of real estate must be in writing). Furthermore, the payor cannot even sue for the money paid unless there was an agreement to repay which was violated: voluntarily paying on behalf of another ("gifting" money or payments to them) does not obligate the other to repay in the absence of an agreement. So any rights the payor has will depend upon what had been agreed to before they made the payments.

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